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tv   Larry King Live  CNN  December 25, 2009 7:00pm-8:00pm EST

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you go by bus or plane? >> private plane. >> yes. jermaine, jackie, tito and marlon. sunday night, the jacksons a family dynasty on a&e. "ac360" starts right now. good evening from new york. we're cutting into christmas programming to bring you news of what the white house is calling an attempted terrorist attack. it happened on airline 330, inbound from amsterdam to detroit. a passenger tried to detonate some kind of explosive. >> i seen the stretcher, the ambulance guys pulling out a bed. and a young african-american, his hands were wrapped in bandages and he was handcuffed to the bed. >> that man has been taken to
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the hospital. apparently he's talking. kate bolduan is working her sources, gathering information on who this guy is and what he's saying. ed henry is in hawaii. >> according to a federal security bulletin obtained by cnn a nigerian set off a small explosive. also this passenger is claiming to have extremist affiliation and claims the device was acquired in yemen along with instructions on when it should be used. the fbi is leading this investigation and checking into this person's background and capability. this person is in custody and has been taken to a hospital to be treated for burns sustained from the explosion. the flight we're talking about is northwest flight 253 starting in amsterdam and landing in detroit. initial reports from delta
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airlines, the parent company of northwest is that the passenger ignited fire crackers either as the plane was on approach or just landed. a spokesperson says one or two other passengers sustained minor injuries in this accident, ali. >> we're getting more information. this is a wide bodied aircraft carrying -- close to 300 passengers, i would imagine. president obama was notified about this. he and the first family are spending the christmas in hawaii. ed hen vi traveling with the president. he joins us with more. ed, the president has been informed? >> reporter: that's right. the president has been informed. he was here early this morning hawaiian time quickly after this happened in detroit. the news from here is a senior administration official is telling cnn the white house now believes this was an attempted terrorist attack. i pressed the senior administration official who told us that does the who's believe there were more people involved or was this a lone person, i got
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no comment on that. on part because it's still so early in this investigation and the white house is still trying to gather the facts. the president was briefed by his military aid early this morning here hon christmas morning. he convened to secure a conference call with his homeland security adviser, who is a top aide on the national security counsel. he's been here traveling with the president. the president then subsequently had another secured call which he told federal officials to increase air security travel in the country. there are a lot of people traveling right now during the holiday season. we've been talking about the economy, health care, all the other important domestic issues. this is a fresh reare are reminder that national security, homeland security still the president's top priority. he's very actively monitoring the situation, ali. >> we know the threat level for airport transport has been at
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orange for some time as opposed to the yellow level of security overall. when you say the president told his people to take whatever precautions necessary, do we have sense as to whether that is going to create an immediate upgrades of security measures at airports right now? >> it's interesting because this administration has already been conducting a review of the whole color-coded system. whether or not it was effective. whether or not it ends up scaring people. what's interesting is we're not getting details about what exactly the federal government is going to do in terms of increasing airport security. they don't want to tip off potential terrorists about exactly what they're doing. so they're keeping the details very tight right now. >> we'll stay on the story. thanks very much. the passenger presumably went through security and apparently something wasn't detected. former bush administration homeland security adviser and cnn national contributor fran townsend. thanks for joining us.
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let's get this straight. we initially thought this might have been fire crackers. it turns out it's some kind of device that this person set off. we don't yet know what he was trying to do. the white house is saying now this was terrorism. who is supposed to have known if there is somebody with terrorist affiliations getting onto an aircraft, and who is supposed to have caught it if they're carrying this device on board? >> caller: good point. we need to know whether or not this individual was on a watch list. if he was on a watch list, how did he get on the plane at all? we share those lists with partners around the world. second, while the president is telling his transportation security and homeland security officials to take all appropriate measures to protect air travelers, the question becomes why aren't they following their existing procedures, which would have prevented somebody from getting on a plane carrying an explosive device. even something like a firecracker should have been detected before an individual boarded the international
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flight. going back to the incident of richard reid, we know that individuals affiliated with al qaeda or not try to get on planes with exploestive devices. this is exactly the sort of thing we've seen before that should have been detected under normal screening procedures. >> your understanding, fran, as we know it to be right, we know it's still developing. we thought it was somebody mischiefous earlier with somebody settinging off firecrackers. now it's somebody who may have admitted to having ties with a terrorist organization and may have been trying to do something worse. what you are hearing so far, somebody with a firecracker-like device on an airplane, from your knowledge, under existing security regulations should not have been on the plane in the first place? >> caller: that's exactly right, ali. i understand why the president would tell security officials to tark all appropriate measures to ensure the safety of air travel, but why weren't existing
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procedures followed that would have detected such a device? >> let's talk about watch lists for a second. we do not know whether this person's name was on a watch list. we're working to get that information. if someone is on a watch list, again whose responsibility is that? is that the airline? is that the security at the boarding airport? who is supposed to catch that? >> you're right. those no-fly lists are shared with our international partners with the airlines. it's long been in dispute with the airlines who is responsible. whether it's a government responsibility or an airline responsibility. certainly it should have come to the attention of airline officials when the individual checked in. and they would have alerted transportation security officials. there's a cooperation where international airlines are cooperating with one another and their host governments. the airline should have picked
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it up. they should have notified government officials and transportation security administration should have been noted fied that this individual was trying to board an international flight. >> to be clear, sthfs this was a delta aircraft northwest airlines flight from amsterdam to detroit. we're trying to determine if in fact this passenger did what he's said to be done. a kate bolduan and ed henry are both working the story. we have the rest of our team gathering more information as it develops. it is a story developing right now. recapping our breaking news. what the white house is calling an attempted terrorist attack. it happened on a dell at the north west airline airbus 330. the one you see here. it was inbound from amsterdam to detroit. that's when officials say a passenger, a nigerian national tried to detonate some kind of device. we're going to go back to our programming. we'll bringing you an update very shortly. car in the aisle.
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kenny rogers has been bringing joy to the world for decades with his music. to see if he's coming to venue near you check out his schedule on our web page. cnn.com/larryking. he's here tonight from the fox
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theater in detroit. . he'll sing the beautiful christmas standard "joy to the world." >> the interesting thing all of the songs, some of them written hundreds of years ago as if they were written for the single purpose of keeping alive the greatest story ever told, the story of the birth of the christ child. ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ joy to the world the lord is come let earth receive her king ♪ ♪ let every heart prepare him room ♪
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♪ and heav'n and nature sing and heav'n and nature sing and heav'n and heav'n and nature sing ♪ ♪ he rules it wills ♪ ♪ he rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove ♪ ♪ the glories of his righteousness ♪ ♪ and wonders of his love and wonders of his love and wonders wonders of his love ♪ snoet and wonders and wonders of his love ♪ ♪ and wonders of his love and wonders of his love and wonders wonders of his love ♪
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♪ national car rental knows i'm picky. so, at national, i go right past the counter... and you get to choose any car in the aisle. choose any car? you cannot be serious! okay. seriously, you choose. go national. go like a pro.
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"american idol's" dav"''s" archuletta. this performance is in english. archie, take it away. ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ st the counter... and you get to choose any car in the aisle. choose any car? you cannot be serious!
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okay. seriously, you choose. go national. go like a pro. right now 1.2 million people are on sprint mobile broadband. 31 are streaming a sales conference from the road. 154 are tracking shipments on a train. 33 are iming on a ferry. and 1300 are secretly checking email on a vacation. that's happening now. america's most dependable 3g network. bringing you the first and only wireless 4g network. right now get a free 3g/4g device for your laptop. sprint. the now network. deaf, hard-of-hearing and people with speech disabilities access www.sprintrelay.com during the share the love event, you helped us donate almost $5 million dollars to charity. i chose meals on wheels because i believe in food for all. i chose habitat for humanity. our pets are our kids. we chose the aspca. we're sharing the love again this year. because giving back feels good. on the subaru outback,
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for of many of you watching "the night before christmas" is a story you read to your children on christmas eve. i bet you never heard it read like this. queen latifah puts her own spin on it. >> a wonderful christmas story called "the night before christmas." you with it, kids? all right, here we go. >> i'm with it. >> good. twas the night before christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. the stockings were hung by the
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chimney with hair in hopes that st. nicholas soon would be there. the children were nestled all snug in their beds while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads. sugar plums, nice. and mama in her kerchief and i in my cap had just settled down for a long winter's nap. when out on the lawn there arose such a clatter i sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. away from the window i flew like a flash. tore up the shutters and threw up the sash. the moon on the breast of the new fallen snow gave a luster of midday to the objects below. when what to my wandering eye should appear but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. with a little old driver so
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lively and quick i knew in a moment it must be st. nick. more rapid than eagles his courses they came. and he whistled and shouted and called them by name. now dasher, now dancer now prancer now vixen. on comet on cupid and donner and blitzen. dash away, dash away, dash away all. as dry lives that before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky. so up to the house top the courses they flew with a sleigh full of toys and st. nicholas, too. and then in a twinkling i heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof. as i drew in my head and was turning around down the chimney
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st. nicholas came with a bound. he was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot. and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot. a bundle of toys he flung on his back. and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack. his eyes how they twinkled, his dimples how merry. his cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry. his draw little mouth was all drawn up like a bow. and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow. a stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath. he had a broad face and a little round belly. that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. he was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf. and i laughed when i saw him in spite of myself. a wink of his eye and a twist of
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his head soon gave me to know i had nothing to dread. he spoke not a word but went straight to his work and filled auld the stockings then turned with a jerk. and laying his finger aside of his nose and giving a nod up the chimney he rose. he sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thus l. but i heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, happy christmas to all and to all a good night. national car rental knows i'm picky.
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this is cnn breaking news. >> good evening from new york.
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we're cutting into christmas programming to bring you news of what the white house is calling an attempted the terrorist attack here in the united states. it happened on a delta northwest airlines airbus 330. you'll see it here on screen in a moment. inbound from amsterdam to detroit. a nigerian national tried to detonate some kind of explosive. that man is take on the the hospital and is apparently talking. we've got live team coverage of the breaking news story. cnn's kate bolduan is working her sources in washington, gathering information on who this suspect is and what he's saying. ed henry is in hawaii where the president is. kate, what do we have? >> hey there, ali. according to a federal security bulletin obtained by cnn a nigerian national exploded a small device at the end of a flight that landed in detroit earlier today. this passenger is claiming to have extremist affiliation and
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claims the device was acquired in yemen. the fibl is checking into this man's background and capabilities. this passenger is in custody and has been taken to a local hospital to be treated for burns sustained from the small explosion. a homeland security official says the aviation threat level is not going up. within the level there are additional security measures that can be taken. both seen and unseen. the sorts of things they can see in coming days may include gate screenings and canine teams throughout airports. >> interesting point you make. we have a number of facts about who this is. he claims to be a nigerian national. he's been treated. the issue here, and it -- it's i think what's on a lot of people's mind. what are the capabilities? what do we think about how serious a threat the suspect may be? >> i think that's a very good
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question. something you can be sure federal authorities are trying to figure out themselves at this point as the investigation early on and that they are trying to talk to this person to see how credible the statements are, how credible his background is. really what they can gather. we're hearing from passengers who were leaving the plane and talking to reporters in detroit. saying they saw the fire from the explosion. least large enough they needed a fire extinguisher to put this out. this isn't something that is just going to go away and was a simple thing that just happened. this was a serious thing that happened on the airplane. really the good news that we should probably point out, and i should have said this earlier is that this plane did land safely and the passengers were off the plane. we heard from a delta spokesperson that one or two passengers received minor injuries. that's the good news here. but a dangerous situation that
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we're learning more about. >> i want to be clear. you're looking at pictures of a delta aircraft. delta is the parent company of the planes that fly. that is a northwest flight 253 from amsterdam to detroit. detroit is major hub for what was northwest airlines, now delta-northwest. kate bolduan remains on the story. the president is in hawaii, president obama is with his first family there. he was briefed on the alleged terror plot. ed henry is in honolulu. he's been traveling with the president. he joins us now on what the president knows and what he's instructed. ed? >> reporter: that's right a senior administration official telling cnn now the white house believes this was an attempted terror wattack. i pressed on whether or not they believe there are more people out there, this official refused to comment. basically it's too early in the investigation to really get out
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too far on those details. but what we do know in terms of the presidency's involvement early this morning about 9:00 or 9:30 hawaii time locally, five hours back from east coast time, the president was briefed by his military aide about this flight, about what happened. then we're told the president had a secure phone call two of his top national security aides and was concerned enough that he decided to convene another secure call with a wider group of federal officials where white house spokesman bill burton says the president then ordered that officials beef up aviation security around the country. saying he asked to arrange a subsequent secure call. in that he instructed that all appropriate measures be taken to increase security for air travel the president is actively monitoring the situation and receiving regular updates. that's a statement from spokesman bill burton.
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a fresh reminder that these potential terror attacks follow the president wherever he goes. whether he's on vacation or not, ali. >> ed, we're going to continue to stay on top of this. you will as well. let us know what you get. ed henry in hawaii right now. let's bring in representative peter king. a member of congress from new york. he's a republican. joins me now. he's a member of the house homeland security meeting. representative king, what have you got? >> caller: basically the person's name. i understand he's a 23-year-old nigerian who bordered the flight in nigeria. >> representative king, i have to tell you, we have not got any information on anyone being charged. but thank you for bringing us information. but we do not have word of official charges. let me know what else you know other than the identity of the person who may be charged. >> his name did appear in a day today base as far as having a
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terrorist nexus. it was a somewhat sophisticated device. it was obviously more than a fire cracker. he himself has third-degree burns. he's being questioned. obviouslily this is going to be looked upon very seriously. he has third-degree burns himself. >> from what we understand, and this is what we do know from the federal government, the situational awareness bulletin, he was being treated, and he's claiming to have extremist affiliations. it was initially reported it might have been firecrackers possiblily because of the size or how it went off. do you know anything about it? was it strapped to his leg? >> caller: i cannot tell you what it was. it was certainly not a firecracker. and it appears to be a different type of detonation than has been used before. it could have been far more serious than it turned out to
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be. and again, fortunately, you know, we were lucky on this one. it could have been devastating. >> representative, you know a great deal about airport security given your experience on the committee. whatever that device ends up having been, does it strike you as something that should have made it onto an aircraft? >> caller: no. i think it should have been detected, again, from what i know. we've been concerned about the al qaeda situation in nigeria. u.s. government actually gave detection advices to the nigerian government just last year. whether or not the breakdown in security came in nigeria or amsterdam, it's surprising for amsterdam. they have a very good track record as far as security. all of this has to be looked at very, very carefully. after what we've gone through over the last eight years, no one should be able to get devices on the plane.
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between nigeria and amsterdam something happened in one place or the other. or maybe both. >> you don't know yet specifically whether this person who was on the plane from amsterdam to detroit originated in nigeria? in other words, whether their immediate previous flight would have been from nigeria? >> he did border the plane in nigeria. >> i just know he got in nigeria. whether he left one plane for another, i don't know. >> i understand that -- or you believe you know the name of the identity. we're not in a position to say that on cnn yet. we are working to confirm that. that said, representative, what do you know about the motivation behind this or the connection this person might have with
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terrorist organizations? >> caller: my understanding is his name was in the data base. he has al qaeda connections. extremist connections. his name popped up pretty quickly. >> representative, what's your view of how legitimate and realistic this threat was? i ask you from the perspective of viewers who sometimes wonder if the things are serious or they're just people not really capable of carrying out a full terrorist attack? what's your feeling on the seriousness of this? >> reporter: my feeling is this was serious. how sophisticated he was, i don't know. but it was a very sophisticated the device. he set it off before the plane landed. we may have been lucky. he may have been inept. but considering his background that i'm aware of, i would say we ducked a bullet on this one. >> thank you. we'll be in touch with you as we get more on this suspected
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terrorist attack on a flight from amsterdam to detroit. representative king, thank you. peter, what have you gathered from everything you've heard about this so far? >> well, i think there are a lot of interesting things about the case. first of all, an attack on christmas. a major christian holiday by somebody associated with al qaeda. we've seen this before. richard reed, the so-called shoe bomber planned an attack very close to christmas. we saw this with another guy who tried to blow up los angeles international airport in the middle of christmas. luckily he was arrested at the canadian border with a trunk full of explosives in his car in december of 1999. but attacking the during the holiday season is designs to terrorize. maybe on a holiday there's less
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attention paid to people. not the "a" team on the security shift. i thought it was interesting representative king said this guy may have came from nigeria. the fact his flight came from nigeria is very interesting. they have poor airport security. they've put out notices in the past -- >> i've seen them at the airport. they say this is -- you know, a list of airports that do not keep security procedures that are up to international standards. often nigeria has had an airport on that list. >> indeed. >> other points about this that are interesting. h guy claims the device originated in yemen. it's become arguably the second most important location for al qaeda. the major hasan case, the ft. hood shooting. a cleric in yemen appears to have played a role in inciting
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hasan to kill those people at ft. hood. >> there's been a great deal of activity just this week in yemen with respect to terrorists. >> that's right. against a group of some 30 members of al qaeda one was somebody are leased from guantanamo and returned to the battlefield. another may be this american-yemeni cleric. just as recently as a day ago, this cleric admitted that major hasan, the alleged ft. hood shooter had contacted him on the internet to ask him if it was okay for a muslim to kill federal soldiers.
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now increasingly important. not as important as the afghan/pakistan border region but certainly maybe second. >> peter, let talk capabilities here. he thinks the alleged suspect may have started in nigeria, got on northwest flight 253 from amsterdam to detroit. at some point before the plane landed, and can i bring you what i've got now from delta airlines? they've given us a statement. upon approach to detroit a passenger caused a disturbance aboard northwest airlines flilgt 253. passenger was subdued immediately and the crew requested law enforcement meet the flight upon arrival. the flight operated by northwest using air bus # 330 aircraft with 200 passengers landed safely. passenger was taken into custody and questioned by law enforcement. that's the detail we have now. combine with the fact there are
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reports that seems that he set off fire crackers. now it seems to be some other kinds of device. tell us whether you think this was somebody who was capable of carrying out a terrorist attack that could have actually taken lives. >> well, clearly he wasn't because it didn't happen. so -- either the dwigt was faulty or operator error. in the case of the shoe bomb case, if richard reed succeeded in blowing up that shoe bomb, the american airlines flight that he was targeting that was flying between paris and miami was diverted to boston would have probably gone down in the atlantic and killed everybody on board. i believe it was something like 180 passengers on board that flight in 2001 in the december christmas season of dwun. now, you know, if these bombs go off successfully, we've seen in
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the past, in 1994, for instance. the nephew of the operational commander of 9/11 set off a bomb on a flight in asia which killed a japanese businessman. it was the first example of a bomb assemble d on the plane and then blew up. this is the model al qaeda has tried to use since. we've seen this model also in the summer of 2006. you may remember, ali, that a group of british citizens, some of whom train with al qaeda try to bring down seven american and canadian airplanes with liquid explosi explosives which is why you can't bring a significant quantity of liquids on flight. if those guys succeeded they would have killed 1,500 people.
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the planes would have blown up in the middle of the atlantic. it would have been hard to do the forensics to analyze it. in the past, these kinds of cases, prosecutors have tended to say that they could have killed a lot of people. this case seems to have fallen into that. >> the margin could be there between failing and causing a great deal of damage schlt. >> if the bomb is large enough so it tears the skin on the plane then you can bring the plane down. >> on the phone, richard quest, the host of quest means business. but probably our foremost expert on airlines and aviation here. this was a northwest airlines delta branded aircraft coming in from amsterdam. it was an a-330 300 carrying 270 passengers.
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wide-bodies aircraft that could have been quite devastating if this alleged terrorist had succeeded. richard, what do you know? >> the plane that you're talking about, now part of the delta airlines group, that is the workhorse of the delta northwest long haul fleet. so it is a transatlantic plane that goes backwards and forwards every day with huge regularity if you like. now the plane as your previous guest was saying, bringing a plane out of the air is relatively easy but also extremely difficult as the same time. the right explosives in the right place at the right time can do that in very short order. but as we saw with richard reed and we hear from this case, getting the combustion for material necessary in the right place of the aircraft, that, of course, has always been the difficult and most challenging part for the terrorist to do. that, of course, is what
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happened here now. until we now what the precursors were. until we know what the -- we can't really know. >> there are probably two issues this is going to come down to for us. what was the device and how does it get onto the -- to an aircraft with today's security, and number two, was this person on some kind of a no fly or a watch list by virtue of the fact that he's claimed to have affiliation with this group. who keeps somebody off on a plane if they're on a no-fly or watch list? and who keeps this stuff off the plane? >> let's go back further. let's look again at the case you were talking about a second or two ago of the multiple attempts allegedly against airliners
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where people were convicted in the u.k. and what we discovered from that particular case was the very different and materials that they were using. the training they had been given, the places they had been, the british police learned an enormous about that in making the case for the dwconvictions. now what the authorities will be looking at is exactly what was being used. relevant to the person in custody thought he was doing it for some wider grear good, was this a seriously credible attack, which it certainly seems to be tonight, and then following that chain through, how this thing got onto the aircraft? was it from amsterdam or further back from that? was this a new variant on the
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threat? something they haven't heard of. with those flights, no one really had gone that stage further. this is very much at the early stages. what i would expect to see for the traveling public in the next 24 to 48 hours is an increased level of security, but not to the same extent we saw a couple years ago. >> stay with me. these are pictures from wdiv in detroit. you may be confused because we're talking about northwest flight 253. delta and northwest have undergone a merger. all of the planes are being changed over to delta planes. there's still separate flight numbers. this was a flight from amsterdam to detroit. this problem was identified prior to the plane landing in detroit. according to a release we've been given by delta. information delta has given us.
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the crew subdued the passenger immediately and requested that law enforcement meet them upon arrival in detroit. that was done. the suspect and two other passengers from what what we understand have been treated for burns and the suspect has spoken to authorities. according to the government, the suspect has claimed to have ties to extremist groups. says that the device was procured in yemen along with instructions on how and when to use it. american passengers will be used to heavy, heavy security at u.s. airports, certainly richard, passengers flying out of heathrow between the united states or anywhere else will be used to that sort of security. but there are other airports in the world that manage to get customers through with less security. do you think -- you were just saying now. you said in the next 24 to 48 hours, you think there's going to be an increase in security. but we're not quite sure how that's going to manifest. are new things not going to be allowed on planes or is it too
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early to know? >> way too rlly to know. this has been a serious -- a very, very gravely serious breach of security, of that, there is no doubt. but if you look at the airport where this plane came from, the transfer point. it came through skipolsh. it is the headquarters for klm world airlines part of air france. it is a major transfer point for the sky team alliance of which delta/northwest is part of it. now, northwest as it has been has been flying in and out of skipolsh. because northwest has had a relationship with world alliance for many, many years. this was a backbone route, a workhorse route from amsterdam to detroit for the airline
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involved. what we will be looking at is -- is this a richard reid? is this a type of incident. how serious and incredible? it's a needle in a haystack if you don't know what it is you're looking for on the next flight. >> richard, we'll be back with you shortly. richard is in rome for us following the story. nic robertson joins us on the phone. this suspect is allegedly nigerian. he's a nigerian national saying he's not ties to an extremist group and procured whatever this incendiary device. what about africa's influence on al qaeda? >> if you look at yemen, you're looking at somalia and countries like this. we know that al qaeda has a footprint in somalia.
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however, nigeria is on the west coast of africa. but what is interesting about nigeria in particular, when a research group recently researched people's reaction to osama bin laden, the pew research institute did this in nigeria, they got surprisingly high numbers of people saying that they at least supported osama bin laden's ideology. it's not -- it's certainly not a country where al qaeda is known to have a large grouping of people, a large affiliated terror group following it there that supported bin laden. but we do know al qaeda has extended its influence over the northern parts of africa in particular. but i think when you look at this particular case, you may be looking at somebody who's bought into the ideology of al qaeda and is perhaps more representative of the threat as
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it is today, rather than what it has been over the past few years. that is, individuals that pose a threat because they've brought into the ideology -- >> this is a big deal. this is a very big deal. for those viewers who have just joined us, you're looking on the left side of your screen at a delta aircraft. that is northwest flight 253. northwest and delta have merged. northwest flight 253 from amsterdam to detroit at detroit airport. it was a suspect identified on that plane who lit something that we earlier heard might have been fire krakers. he was subdued, taken into custody, treated for burns. he's a nigerian national and claims to have links with an extremist group which is why we're talking to nic robertson right now about al qaeda's influence in africa. we don't know whether this extremist group he claims to be linked to is al qaeda or connected to al qaeda. but the reality is this is a nigerian national. we don't know whether he's acting on his own -- this is the point you were just making. whether he was acting on his own
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or acting as part of a larger operation. >> reporter: this is something that terror analysts have seen more and more of, the use of the internet by al qaeda and others to get their message out but also to recruit, also to sort of screen and filter people. so al qaeda sort of, if you will, maybe may have people that are watching the internet, watching chat rooms and they may find people try and reach out to them electronically and say, we'd like to join, we'd like to support you. but the message coming back from al qaeda, and you can see this from osama bin laden's deputies last year, when people were online asking him those questions in an online chat with him, he's saying, you know our ideology, you know what we want -- you can do it yourself. >> nic, let's go to jeanne meserve. you've been working this story. what more do we have?
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>> reporter: as you know, the threat level at the moment is staying right where it has been for aviation. it was put up to orange in august of 2006. initials tell me it is going to stay there. however, within that threat level, they can flex and surge and you will be seeing that. air travelers are likely to see more k-9 teams, likely to see more screening at the gates. there may be more behavioral detection officers as they're called, people who simply stand around the airport and look at people and try and tell from their behavior if something is amiss. those sorts of additional security measures are being ramped up now. they won't be ramped up at every airport. this will be unpredictable. you'll see it in some places, not in others. they are saying there are many other security measures that you will not -- >> this is a very good point because the national threat level is yellow. the national threat level for
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air travel is orange and has been for sometime. but this is a good point. they can step it up dramatically within that orange. according to richard quest, you're probably going to see that at airports around the world and in the united states in the next 48 hours or so, some sort of step-up. >> reporter: that's absolutely correct. they're ramping up. as we speak -- you'll remember when there was the threat of liquid explosives. overnight they changed the protocol that screening officers were to be using. but they have a lot of work to do in investigating this to figure out exactly what this guy was up to, exactly what sort of explosive it was that he had and what sort of screening they might be able to do to catch that if there are any others trying to do some sort of similar deed. >> we have jeanne meserve, nic robertson, richard quest, peter bergen, kate bolduan on this attempted terrorist attack. northwest airlines flight 253 with 278 passengers on board
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